The door opened and FBI agent Bill Estevez burst into the makeshift conference room. It was 3 P.M. on May 26, 1999, and I'd been patiently waiting in the Mercantile Bank Plaza for five hours. I entertained myself reading grand jury transcripts for the hundredth time and scanning a newspaper. My attorneys were already at the courthouse monitoring the trial.
Startled, I dropped the newspaper I'd been reading and warily glanced up at Estevez. “John, hurry up, pack up your things. I've got to get you over to the courthouse,” he commanded.
“Am I getting on the stand today?” I stammered. “I'm not sure, but Joe Ford called and said you're the next scheduled witness. Joe and Kathleen want you there. We can't have any interruption in witnesses or the judge may require us to rest our position,” he responded. That would be okay with me, I mused.
I had grown increasingly nervous as the day wore on. My stomach growled and my throat became tight and dry. I grabbed my suit coat, tightened my tie, and rushed out ahead of Estevez to his car. We wove through the crowded downtown streets the half-mile to the courthouse and found an empty U.S. Marshals parking spot on Polk Street. Then we paced briskly to the entrance of the courthouse, barely pausing for Estevez to flash his shiny federal badge as he whisked me through security. That was easy, I thought. I should always have an FBI escort when entering a federal building.